LUSAKA Magistrate Alice Walusiku has ordered that two Marshlands Consortium Limited directors, Tobias Milambo and Richard Lubemba, will remain in custody until September 22, this year, when the case comes up for hearing of the State’s response to their bail application.

This is in a matter in which three Marshlands Consortium Limited directors are facing 15 counts of forgery, obtaining money by false pretenses and uttering false documents, among them, Ultimate Insurance Company Limited shareholder resolutions.

The accused persons in this matter are: Tobias Milambo, 48, Nachi Musonda, 33 and Richard Lubemba, 31 of Chalala.

Last week, Magistrate Walusiku issued a bench warrant against Milambo and Lubemba who were not before court.

Defence team led by Nchima Nchito had informed the Court that Musonda was in direct contact with a COVID-19 patient and was put on 14-day quarantine by a doctor.

The defence also produced a report indicating that Musonda was tested for COVID-19 on August 31, this year.

They also told the Court that the two other accused persons could also have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

But in her ruling, Magistrate Walusiku ordered that the medical personnel who attended to Musonda should appear before her to confirm if he was attended to.

She further ordered that the other accused persons, Milambo and Lubemba, who were not before court be brought under warrant.

But when the matter came up yesterday, State prosecutor Noah Mwanza said the doctor from Levy Mwanawasa Hospital who was supposed to appear in court in relation to Musonda’s health status was not available.

He said the doctor informed him that he was attending to an emergency in the operation theatre and further added that the warrants against Milambo and Lubemba had been executed.

Mwanza then applied that the case be adjourned to October 6.

At this point, defence lawyer Chisuwo Hamwela applied for cancellation of the bench warrant against Lubemba and Milambo, saying the two accused persons did not abscond court on purpose, but that at the time the warrant was issued, they were in the court’s car park on account that they had been in close proximity to someone exposed to COVID-19.

He added that the accused persons had a duty to ensure that they did not expose the public to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mr Nachi Musonda was exposed to COVID-19 patient and produced medical documents. He, in-turn, came into contact with the two accused persons (Lubemba and Milambo),” Hamwela said.

He said the accused persons were advised to stay in the car park by the defence, while it came to seek the Court’s guidance over their welfare.

Hamwela further said the accused’s absence was not meant to disrespect the Court and further prayed that the warrants be cancelled.

However, Mwanza objected to the application, arguing that the defence could not claim that the accused persons were in the car park without adducing proof to that effect.

And in he ruling, Magistrate Walusiku said at the last sitting, the accused were said to have been in the car park, but no document was produced to show that they were in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

She denied the defence’s application to cancel the bench warrant against the accused persons and ordered that they be remanded in custody until conclusion of the matter.

At this point, the defence applied for bail.

However, the State applied for an adjournment, saying it needed time to bring witnesses to aid its response.

Mwanza applied that the State responds to the application on October 6, the present date.

However, in her ruling, Magistrate Walusiku granted an adjournment to September 22, this year, on the bail application.